Monday, June 13, 2011


I think the very best place in my town for a picnic on a nice day is the train station. At least, it's great if you have a little boy.

We don't have a big train station that's open all the time. It's only open a few minutes before the Amtrak rolls through, a couple times a week, on its way to or from Port Huron or Chicago.

But it does have something cool... three brightly-painted cabooses. This was always a place Logan and I loved to come for a picnic. We'd just sit on a caboose and eat whatever lunch we brought, and if we got lucky, a train would go by or the little green and yellow work train would be busily shunting grain cars at the grain elevator. I am surprised that I never see other moms with their kids at the cabooses. We've spent a lot of time there!

Logan's over the whole train fascination now (something I thought would never happen!) but Jordan likes them a lot, so I get to have caboose picnics again! Fun! Plus, they're a really picturesque place to take photos. As a matter of fact, I wish I'd had some of my senior photos taken here or maybe even some on our wedding day. That would have been neat.

Today is Logan's last day of school, so I took Jordan over to the cabooses for a special picnic lunch, just the two of us together, before big brother is home for the summer. It was wonderful. Have a look.

I see London, I see France, I see someone's green FLIP diaper!

Fun memories with my boy

I LOVE this photo of him just hanging out on the back of the caboose, eating his peach

Don't look down!

Kicking my feet up and enjoying my lunch

He was cracking up at these sparrows that kept landing on the tracks. I think they were building a nest somewhere. On a really gross note, check out the disgusting amount of backwash in Jordan's Kool-Aid. One reason I NEVER share my drinks with him!

Checking out the wheels and stuff underneath

Camping chow

Do you remember the "Lowered Expectations" bit from MadTV? It was like a dating service for, well, people who might have a difficult time meeting other people because they were, like, serial killers or cat freaks or whatever? Well, I hear the little jingle from that bit going through my mind whenever I pack the food for camping.

I adore camping. Getting out in the woods with my husband and sons is something that just takes all the stresses and makes it float away. Getting ready to go is another thing altogether, though. I turn into a list-making machine the week before we leave. Particularly, planning out the food for the trip is a source of stress for me. I don't know why it gets my panties in such a bunch to deal with something that should be so simple, but it does. I guess it is partly because if you don't have every component of every dish, you're out of luck. What if it rains and you were planning to cook on the campfire? Also, there are four people to take into consideration, and I like to try to prepare meals that everyone will enjoy. I don't really want any mealtime battles on vacation.

At home, I try to serve my family mostly healthy foods. We have a couple boxed/processed items in the cupboards, but for the most part I try to stay away from too much of that stuff. Of course, with kids, things like Goldfish crackers are pretty much a staple.

But when we go camping, we don't eat nearly as healthy. I was appalled when I got groceries for our first camping trip of the year. It looked like, well, what I think a LOT of Americans' regular grocery shopping trips look like. Sad. A lot of junk. Sure, there were a few fruits and veggies in there, but I had definitely lowered my standards.

Here's a glimpse...

Here's what my planned meals looked like:

Breakfasts: Cereal, oatmeal, fruit (either fruit cups or fresh) and yogurt.

Lunches: Sandwiches. Ham & cheese or PB&J. I got the Simply Fruit jelly but shamefully got the Jif to Go peanut butter instead of the natural kind. Each little cup is just the right size to make a sandwich for each of the four of us, and the package of 8 cups will probably last us through the summer for camping. Plus, unlike with the natural PB, we won't have oily leakage! Learned that one from experience!!! Also we have fresh veggies with hummus, trail mix and beef jerky, or cheese and crackers and ring bologna.

Dinners: I planned three nights' worth. One was Koegel Vienna hot dogs and raw veggies with hummus. The second was ham steaks, crescent rolls cooked on a stick over the fire, and some sort of canned veggies. Probably green beans. The third was chicken fajitas (I'll pre-cook the chicken at home) and chips w/ guacamole I make at camp (the kind where you just mix a packet with the avocados).

As for snacks, I got a bag of potato chips (I never buy chips, except mini bags for the Chore Store, and tortilla chips to have with homemade salsa and guacamole) and, of course, I took stuff to make s'mores.

To drink, we took milk, orange juice and a copuple Powerades (it was 69 cents for a 32 ounce bottle so I figured it would be a treat. Plus, I always get dehydrated when we camp because I forget to drink water). We also each take our stainless steel water bottles to refill at the campground tap.

The funny thing is, when we camp, after a day or so my tummy tells me in no uncertain terms that it is unhappy with my food choices. Especially after hot dog and marshmallow night. My gut HATES that stuff! You'd think I'd learn, but I don't.

One day I'd like to figure out how to maybe not take quite so much junk camping. A little is fine, but when I'm getting tummy aches and often can't wait to eat a normal meal when we get home, something needs to change.

How about you? Do you eat healthy on vacation, totally junk out, or somewhere in between?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cheap peace of mind


I've never been a huge child proofer. I mean, I have most of our outlets plugged (but Jordan knows how to pull out the caps and put them back in) and of course I have any chemicals put up in high cupboards, but I never went to the extreme that a lot of parents do. I want my kids to be safe, but there should also be a little live and learn. I never, for example, got rid of my house plants (no poisonous ones) because I wanted my kids to learn to stay out of them. That meant, unfortunately, that each of them got a handful of cactus pickers at one time or another, but that's living and learning.

Jordan scares me, though. For one thing, he's a climber.

But his most recent trick has given me a number of mini heart attacks lately.

He escapes.

Seriously, I turn my back for two seconds and he's GONE. Out the front door, across the neighborhood, GONE. Locks don't baffle him. Barricading the door with a table? Minor obstacle. And he's fearless, and knows no boundaries. He will go into a neighbor's garage or house, out into the road, through the woods, into the swamp, wherever. No limits. Once last week I found him in the front seat of my car, pretending to drive.

I can see it now, my disheveled, tearstained face on the news... "I didn't even know he'd gotten out..."


And he's FAST.

When Logan was this age, I used hook-and-eye closures on our screen doors at the old house. It worked well. However, we don't have screens here and there is fancy wooden trim around the front door, which would make using a hook difficult, and also it would permanently damage the wood.

My friend Eva told me she'd seen a door alarm at the dollar store. Well, I thought, it's only a buck. I didn't expect much, but I went to the store, found them, and bought the last two they had.

It looks like this

You simply peel and stick to the door and frame, switch it on and then when the door is opened, a really annoying alarm sounds.

So far, it works well. I have ample notice when Jordan makes a break for it. It's exactly what I needed, really. I love that you can turn it off, too. I just have to remember to do so. I set it off at 5 o'clock this morning when I left for the gym.

Jordan thinks it's hilarious to set it off, but so far, he hasn't been opening the door JUST to set it off. He just laughs when he happens to do so.

Here's Jordan, demonstrating how it works:

Anyway, I got it at Dollar Tree for a buck and it is called IntrudAlert, and I can say it does exactly what it's supposed to do. It might even make me feel a bit safer if Hubby's on a business trip.

Dollar Tree and IntrudAlert don't know me, didn't solicit this review, and I gained nothing from them to write this. It's just me sharing a bit of valuable info with other moms!